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The Best Movies for Athletes to Watch 

Ranker Film
Updated February 14, 2020 698 votes 94 voters 2.6k views 34 items

List Rules Vote up the films that will inspire athletes.

There's something about a good sports movie that really gets the juices pumping. From inspirational sports movie to gripping documentaries, there are plenty of movies for athletes that can provide fantastic motivation. Below, you'll find some recommendations if you want a film that will encourage you to get out there and push yourself to your limits. 

When it comes to inspiring movies for athletes, many are based on true stories. From athlete biopics to films about a specific team during a point in history, these stories remind sports fans what can be achieved with drive and dedication. There are also plenty of fictional films that introduced characters - like Rocky Balboa - whose name are synonymous with athletic excellence. Whatever the central message, sports films are great for any aspiring athlete to watch because they teach us about struggling to overcome the limits we impose upon ourselves. Vote up the best movies for athletes below! 

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1
Rocky is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Movies for Athletes to Watch
Sylvester Stallone, Joe Frazier, Burgess Meredith

Released: 1976

Directed by: John G. Avildsen

Rocky is a 1976 American sports drama film directed by John G. Avildsen. A small-time boxer (Sylvester Stallone) gets a supremely rare chance to fight a heavy-weight champion (Carl Weathers) in ...more

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#10 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #30 of 350 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetimelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

2
Rudy is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Movies for Athletes to Watch
Vince Vaughn, Sean Astin, Jon Favreau filmography

Released: 1993

Directed by: David Anspaugh

Rudy is a 1993 American sports film directed by David Anspaugh. It is an account of the life of Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger, who harbored dreams of playing football at the University of ...more

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Things About The Real Rudy That The 'Rudy' Movie Purposely Misrepresents #482 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #88 of 624 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies

3
Remember the Titans is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Movies for Athletes to Watch
Hayden Panettiere, Ryan Gosling, Denzel Washington

Released: 2000

Directed by: Boaz Yakin

Remember the Titans is a 2000 American sports drama film produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Boaz Yakin. The screenplay, written by Gregory Allen Howard, is based on the true story of ...more

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#13 of 729 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #81 of 350 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #956 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies

4
Hoosiers is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Movies for Athletes to Watch
Gene Hackman, Dennis Hopper, Barbara Hershey

Released: 1986

Directed by: David Anspaugh

Hoosiers is a 1986 sports film directed by David Anspaugh. A coach with a checkered past (Gene Hackman) and a local drunk (Dennis Hopper) train a small town high school basketball team to become ...more

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#170 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #920 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #172 of 293 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry

5
The Natural is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Movies for Athletes to Watch
Kim Basinger, Robert Redford, Robert Duvall

Released: 1984

Directed by: Barry Levinson

The Natural is a 1984 sports drama. It is a film adaptation of Bernard Malamud's 1952 baseball novel of the same name, directed by Barry Levinson and starring Robert Redford, Glenn Close, and ...more

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#136 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #680 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #166 of 293 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry

6
Chariots of Fire is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Movies for Athletes to Watch
Stephen Fry, Kenneth Branagh, Ian Holm

Released: 1981

Directed by: Hugh Hudson

Chariots of Fire is a 1981 British historical drama film. It tells the fact-based story of two athletes in the 1924 Olympics: Eric Liddell, a devout Scottish Christian who runs for the glory of ...more

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#365 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #77 of 235 The Best Movies Based On True Storieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

7
Creed is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Movies for Athletes to Watch
Carly Kiel added Sylvester Stallone, Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson

Released: 2015

Directed by: Ryan Coogler

Creed is a 2015 American sports drama film directed by Ryan Coogler. The former World Heavyweight Champion Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) serves as a trainer and mentor to Adonis Johnson ...more

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#227 of 233 The Worst Sequels Of All Time #780 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #130 of 293 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry

8
The Blind Side is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Movies for Athletes to Watch
Sandra Bullock, Lily Collins, Kathy Bates

Released: 2009

Directed by: John Lee Hancock

The Blind Side is a 2009 American semi-biographical sports drama film. It was written and directed by John Lee Hancock, and based on the 2006 book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael ...more

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#503 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #51 of 293 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Crylisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

9
A League of Their Own is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Movies for Athletes to Watch
Madonna, Tom Hanks, Rosie O'Donnell

Released: 1992

Directed by: Penny Marshall

A League of Their Own is a 1992 American comedy-drama film that tells a fictionalized account of the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Directed by Penny Marshall, the ...more

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#298 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #91 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #64 of 802 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made

10
Field of Dreams is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Movies for Athletes to Watch
Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Kevin Costner

Released: 1989

Directed by: Phil Alden Robinson

Field of Dreams is a 1989 American fantasy-drama film directed by Phil Alden Robinson, who also wrote the screenplay, adapting W. P. Kinsella's novel Shoeless Joe. It stars Kevin Costner, Amy ...more

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The Most Memorable 'Field of Dreams' Quotes #111 of 350 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #61 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked

11
Bull Durham is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Movies for Athletes to Watch
Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins

Released: 1988

Directed by: Ron Shelton

Bull Durham is a 1988 American romantic comedy sports film. It is partly based upon the minor league experiences of writer/director Ron Shelton and depicts the players and fans of the Durham ...more

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#156 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #301 of 1,027 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films #364 of 802 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made

12
The Wrestler is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Movies for Athletes to Watch
Evan Rachel Wood, Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei

Released: 2008

Directed by: Darren Aronofsky

The Wrestler is a 2008 American sports drama film directed by Darren Aronofsky, written by Robert D. Siegel, and starring Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, and Evan Rachel Wood. Production began in ...more

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#127 of 293 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry #207 of 710 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars #284 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys

13
The Pride of the Yankees... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Movies for Athletes to Watch
Babe Ruth, Gary Cooper, Bill Dickey

Released: 1942

Directed by: Sam Wood

The Pride of the Yankees is a 1942 American film directed by Sam Wood and starring Gary Cooper, Teresa Wright, and Walter Brennan. It is a tribute to the legendary New York Yankees first baseman ...more
14
Raging Bull is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Movies for Athletes to Watch
Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Martin Scorsese

Released: 1980

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

Raging Bull is a 1980 American biographical black-and-white sports drama film directed by Martin Scorsese, produced by Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler and adapted by Paul Schrader and Mardik ...more

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Behind The Scenes Of 'Raging Bull,' The Masterpiece Scorsese Never Wanted To Make #184 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Rankedlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

15
Million Dollar Baby is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Movies for Athletes to Watch
Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Hilary Swank

Released: 2004

Directed by: Clint Eastwood

Million Dollar Baby is a 2004 American sports drama film directed, co-produced and scored by Clint Eastwood, and starring Eastwood, Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman. This film is about an ...more

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#1,087 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #30 of 293 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Crylisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

16
Any Given Sunday is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Movies for Athletes to Watch
Cameron Diaz, Al Pacino, Jamie Foxx

Released: 1999

Directed by: Oliver Stone

Any Given Sunday is a 1999 American drama film directed by Oliver Stone depicting a fictional professional American football team. The film features an ensemble cast, consisting of Al Pacino, ...more

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#44 of 182 The Best Sports Movies Ever Made #176 of 266 The Best Ensemble Movies #10 of 58 The Best Football Movies Ever

17
Olympic Dreams is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Movies for Athletes to Watch
Alexi Pappas, Nick Kroll, Gus Kenworthy

Released: 2020

Directed by: Jeremy Teicher

Olympic dreams is a 2020 American comedy directed by Jeremy Teicher. A young cross-country skier bonds with a volunteer doctor after her competition ends.
18
When We Were Kings is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Movies for Athletes to Watch
George Foreman, B.B. King, Don King

Released: 1996

Directed by: Leon Gast

When We Were Kings is a 1996 documentary film directed by Leon Gast about the famous "Rumble in the Jungle" heavyweight championship match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. The ...more

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#220 of 729 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #503 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guyslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

19
Tin Cup is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Movies for Athletes to Watch
Kevin Costner, Rene Russo, Don Johnson

Released: 1996

Directed by: Ron Shelton

Tin Cup is a 1996 romantic comedy film co-written and directed by Ron Shelton, and starring Kevin Costner and Rene Russo with Cheech Marin and Don Johnson in major supporting roles.

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#590 of 1,027 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films #236 of 802 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made #237 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies

20
Miracle is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Movies for Athletes to Watch
Kurt Russell, Patricia Clarkson, Ken Dryden

Released: 2004

Directed by: Gavin O'Connor

Miracle is a 2004 American sports docudrama about the United States men's hockey team, led by head coach Herb Brooks, that won the gold medal in the 1980 Winter Olympics. The USA team's victory ...more

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#790 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #167 of 293 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry #27 of 235 The Best Movies Based On True Stories

21
Hoop Dreams is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Movies for Athletes to Watch

Released: 1994

Directed by: Steve James

Hoop Dreams is a 1994 American documentary film directed by Steve James and written by James and Frederick Marx, with Kartemquin Films. It follows the story of two African-American high school ...more

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#349 of 729 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #330 of 710 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars #8 of 364 The Greatest Documentaries of All Time

22
Overcomer is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Movies for Athletes to Watch
Alex Kendrick, Priscilla Shirer, Ben Davies

Released: 2019

Directed by: Alex Kendrick

Overcomer is a 2019 American Christian drama film directed by Alex Kendrick. John Harrison (Alex Kendrick) is a high school basketball coach whose state championship dreams vanish when he ...more
23
Friday Night Lights is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Movies for Athletes to Watch
Amber Heard, Connie Britton, Tim McGraw

Released: 2004

Directed by: Peter Berg

Friday Night Lights is a 2004 sports drama film, directed by Peter Berg, which documents the coach and players of a high school football team and the Texas city of Odessa that supports and is ...more

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#1,475 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #218 of 293 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry #375 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys

24
White Men Can't Jump is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Movies for Athletes to Watch
Woody Harrelson, Wesley Snipes, Rosie Perez

Released: 1992

Directed by: Ron Shelton

White Men Can't Jump is a 1992 American sports buddy comedy film written and directed by Ron Shelton, starring Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson as streetball hustlers. The film was released in ...more

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#166 of 350 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #52 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies #469 of 1,211 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time

25
North Dallas Forty is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Movies for Athletes to Watch
Nick Nolte, Charles Durning, Dabney Coleman

Released: 1979

Directed by: Ted Kotcheff

North Dallas Forty is a 1979 film drama starring Nick Nolte, Mac Davis, and G. D. Spradlin set in the world of American professional football. It was directed by Ted Kotcheff and based on the ...more